TWO EX-BIRMINGHAM STANDOUTS DEAD, ONE IN CRITICAL CONDITION AFTER FATAL CAR ACCIDENT
Two former All-City football players at Birmingham High died Friday in a car accident, according to Birmingham coach Jim Rose.
Isaiah Hastings and Alex Manu were fatally injured, and another former Birmingham standout, Eldridge Salguero, is hospitalized in critical condition, Rose said.
Hastings, 19, was a two-time All-City running back who rushed for more than 1,000 yards in both his junior and senior seasons before graduating two years ago. Manu, 18, a defensive lineman, and Salguero, 18, a safety, both graduated last season.
All three had joined the team at College of the Canyons this season.
"It's a very rough day," Rose said. "There is no playbook for how to deal with this. We're trying, but it's hard. This kind of pain does not go away over night."
Rose said Hastings' mother called at 6 a.m. this morning to break the news.
"These kids were our team captains, and they had been hanging out with us all summer long, working out with us," Rose said. "We're going to put their numbers on the back of our helmets this year, and I'm thinking about what else we're going to do. We'll do some other things, but I'm not exactly sure what."
The crash occurred in Sylmar. Salguero reportedly was driving a Nissan 300Z and collided with Honda van.
The van reportedly had two occupants who suffered minor injuries.
College of the Canyons coach Ted Iacenda got the news this morning just as the team had begun a meeting.
"We're devastated. There are no words," Iacenda said. "When I first heard it, I didn't believe it. I reached out to one of the young man's parents, and she was obviously distraught and confirmed it. It was shocking to say the least. Just devastating. Like I said, there are no words to describe it."
Iacenda said all three were going to be major contributors this coming season.
"That's the least of my worries," Iacenda said. "The character of all three of these kids was off the charts. They were all 'yes sir' and 'no sir' kids. This whole thing is such a blow to us."
Former Birmingham quarterback Trae Smith was an ex-teammate of all three, and he said the news has hit him hard because a lot of the former players remain particularly close.
"For Isaiah and Alex, I just remember their passion for the game every day at practice, and they both were so nice to everyone," Smith said. "Those two made going to practice fun, and aside from football, they always had a smile on their faces. I never met anyone who didn't like the, especially the players on the team."
Smith graduated two years ago, and he's a college sophomore.
"We went 9-3 in each of my last two years, and we were just an extremely close team," Smith said. "I remember Isaiah would have like 20 or 30 family members at the games, and all of them would be wearing his jersey number.
When this news broke on twitter and instagram, it instantly brought a lot of us back together. We're there for each other, and that's a credit to our coach, Jim Rose, because more than football, he taught us about dedication and life lessons.
"As for Eldridge, I heard he was in critical condition, and I'm just glad he's still alive."
Gerry Gittelson. can be reached at email@example.com
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